He met with overseas dignitaries and took part in a spiritual cleansing ceremony. He visited notorious websites of the slave commerce and toured thriving native companies. And he celebrated Hanukkah with a fellow Brooklynite, about 5,000 miles from dwelling.
As New York Metropolis grappled with a spate of pressing challenges over the previous week that may have lasting implications for the incoming mayoral administration, the mayor-elect, Eric Adams, was in Ghana, looking out, he has mentioned, for his roots on a “spiritual journey.”
For a lot of Black Individuals, a go to to Ghana — a country through whose ports thousands and thousands of Africans handed on the brutal journey to plantations — is a wrenching and shifting expertise. And Mr. Adams, slated to be New York Metropolis’s second Black mayor, has forged his current journey there as proof of resilience and progress.
“My ancestors left Africa with slavery,” Mr. Adams declared at one current occasion. “I’m coming dwelling with the mayoralty. And if I try this just for my aspiration, then I failed these ancestors.”
However after greater than per week away, Mr. Adams has returned to a metropolis that’s confronting severe issues of public health and public safety, and a brand new, sweeping vaccine mandate that he should navigate.
He should additionally jump-start a transition course of that has, to date, lagged the tempo set by his predecessor.
Mr. Adams left city having made no appointments to his future administration — in distinction to Mayor Invoice de Blasio, who had introduced roles together with police commissioner, first deputy mayor and director of intergovernmental affairs by the tip of the primary week of December 2013.
On Thursday, Mr. Adams formally introduced his new choice for schools chancellor, David Banks, an indication his transition is accelerating. He opened the occasion with a direct rebuke of anybody who would query his journey overseas, together with, he mentioned, the “tabloids.”
“Individuals who criticize this, they simply didn’t get it,” Mr. Adams mentioned. “They simply didn’t get what my campaign represented to so many individuals on this metropolis and on this nation.”
His staff insists that he remained closely engaged in transition work from Ghana. He additionally saved tabs on New York Metropolis politics as his high lieutenants waded into the Metropolis Council speaker’s race, a contest that has vital implications for Mr. Adams’s agenda and has change into more and more contentious.
“The mayor-elect labored regularly all through his journey, often speaking with key advisers concerning the Omicron menace and different urgent points, whereas making ready his new administration and planning for numerous main bulletins on his return,” mentioned Evan Thies, his spokesman.
Few would begrudge Mr. Adams a postelection trip or query the which means of his journey to Ghana. However his go to got here lower than a month earlier than he’s to be sworn in to one of the consequential jobs within the nation, and a few questioned the timing.
“It is extremely uncommon,” mentioned Maya Wiley, a former counsel to Mr. de Blasio and a civil rights lawyer, who ran in opposition to Mr. Adams within the June mayoral main. “What I may say is that it surprises me that this was a visit that would not be taken after the first, and that it’s a very intense time for many new administrations coming into workplace.”
The journey was largely closed to the press, which Mr. Thies defended by emphasizing the non-public nature of the journey — however it was hardly a quiet resort retreat. Mr. Adams met with politically and civically distinguished individuals, together with a former president of Ghana and the mayor of Accra, the capital metropolis, and delivered speeches of his personal.
Interviews with leaders in Ghana and a overview of social media postings present that he spent vital time with the Heritage and Cultural Society of Africa Basis, or HACSA, a corporation that’s targeted on points together with selling African heritage and constructing connections with the diaspora.
The group is helmed by Johanna Odonkor Svanikier, a former Ghanaian ambassador to France and Portugal, who accompanied Mr. Adams on components of his journey.
“HACSA’s mission is to assist members of the African diaspora return to their roots and study their historical past — a mission that deeply resonated with the mayor-elect,” Mr. Thies mentioned, requested how Mr. Adams was linked to the group.
Mr. Adams was the visitor of honor at a celebration for the group, the place he encountered officers like UNESCO’s Accra director, Abdourahamane Diallo.
“We mentioned areas of doable cooperation in training, tradition and heritage with the Metropolis of New York, from Heritage to the UNESCO’s program on cities,” Mr. Diallo mentioned in an e mail, relayed by way of a spokeswoman.
A information launch from HACSA additionally mentioned Mr. Adams pledged his help for an initiative designed to attach “diaspora youth” with Africa.
Mr. Thies mentioned Mr. Adams paid for the journey himself, however mentioned that as a matter of coverage they’d not present receipts. Gabriella Lourie, a consultant for the group, mentioned HACSA didn’t fund the journey.
Mr. Adams visited a variety of websites of serious historic, financial and cultural significance to Ghana, and was joined on the journey by his companion, Tracey Collins. He hung out on the dwelling of the civil rights chief and activist W.E.B. Du Bois and the encompassing advanced, the place Mr. Thies mentioned the house’s caretakers added a tribute to Mr. Adams’s mom to a wall honoring Black leaders.
“He was deeply moved by that,” Mr. Thies mentioned.
Mr. Adams toured companies that replicate the significance of products like cocoa to the Ghanaian economic system.
And he acquired a new name — Barima Yaw Asamani, a nod to a Black royal warrior — as a part of a conventional religious cleaning ceremony. The follow was undertaken as a result of his ancestors have been compelled overseas in opposition to their will, based on one of many elders concerned.
“He’s not the primary one that has been cleansed and who has been renamed,” mentioned Nana Semanhyia Darko, the spokesman for the chief of Akwamu state, who carried out the ceremony. “African Individuals have been visiting this place, and now we have been renaming them.”
A central a part of Mr. Adams’s go to was a visit to the infamous slave forts of Cape Coast and Elmina Castles, and he stopped on the “Door of No Return.” When President Obama made a similar stop in 2009, he mentioned the expertise illustrated “pure evil” and reminded him of a focus camp.
That have “was an emotional second for the mayor-elect that gave him perspective on the significance of the challenges forward for him as the town’s subsequent chief,” Mr. Thies mentioned.
Mr. Adams was not made accessible for an interview to debate these takeaways and different points of his journey.
HACSA, nonetheless, supplied a gradual stream of updates on social media. One Instagram image confirmed him standing close to a cannon at Cape Coast, sporting sun shades and gazing on the sea with a somber expression.
One other picture confirmed him sporting colourful, flowing garb as he posed at a memorial website honoring Kwame Nkrumah, saluting the previous chief of Ghana who was on the forefront of the nation’s battle for independence. He toured the location with Nkrumah’s daughter, Samia.
“I feel it’s good that our mayor is visiting Africa,” mentioned Yaw Nyarko, a professor of economics at New York College who heads N.Y.U. Africa Home and does work in Ghana. “New York is an enormous metropolis, I feel it’s one of many few cities the place the mayor truly has a overseas coverage.”
The professor famous the Ghanaian authorities’s work in encouraging vacationers, specifically African Individuals, to go to. Requested about Mr. Adams’s claim that the individuals of Ghana have been awaiting his go to as they did Mr. Obama’s, he laughed.
“It’s somewhat bit unfair, Obama was the president, Adams is but to be mayor; so undoubtedly there’s a distinction in stage of identify recognition,” he mentioned. However, he added, “All people is anxious to see extra connections between Ghana and New York.”
One clear connection was on show early in Mr. Adams’s journey, when he confirmed up at a Hanukkah celebration hosted by Chabad. Rabbi Noach Majesky, the Chabad rabbi in Accra, is from Crown Heights in Brooklyn.
He described Mr. Adams’s go to as “a Birthright kind of journey.”
The New York Publish first reported on the Hanukkah go to. Mr. Adams was linked to the occasion by Ms. Svanikier’s husband, Thomas Svanikier, Chabad officers mentioned.
Sporting what seemed to be a lightweight yellow dashiki shirt, Mr. Adams posed earlier than an image of a menorah, spoke of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the seventh grand rebbe of the Lubavitch Hasidic motion whose base is in Crown Heights, and mentioned the “open wounds” of the Holocaust and slavery, based on movies supplied by Chabad of Ghana.
“I got here right here to shut the open wound of slavery and reconnect with my ancestors,” Mr. Adams mentioned, talking on a stage bathed in pink gentle. “I’m completely satisfied to be right here in Ghana with you, displaying how nice we’re as a individuals.”
An electrical guitar riffed on the primary few notes of “The Star-Spangled Banner” as one other day for a mayor-elect overseas got here to an in depth.
Reporting was contributed by Philip Nii Lartey in Ghana, Ruth Maclean in Dakar, Senegal, and Michael M. Grynbaum in New York. Susan C. Beachy contributed analysis.